Everybody around me nowadays knows that I am a deaf person, but there was a time when people didn’t know. After some experiences (bad and good), I decided that I could not be introverted anymore.
As a deaf person you can communicate in sign language (I live in San Diego and use ASL) but this is only with deaf people or people interested in this language and when you want to connect with the rest of the world it is hard, really hard.
I believe that we have to share that we are different, so that people know if you are a deaf person, and this is one the hardest thing to do – at least, this was really difficult for me.
I didn’t want to be seen and treated differently from others, I wanted to be able to have the same experiences that other people had, but in order to do that, what I needed to do was to share that I was deaf to receive support and help from people to enjoy all the things I wanted to do.
When I was younger I was afraid of entering a Starbucks cafe to drink a coffee. They were always full of people and I needed to write down my choice and show it to the cashier then he/she needed to reply, then I’d write more, and so on.
I used to think this was going to be a stressful moment for me, because the cashier and other customers will notice that I am deaf. But a few months ago I heard that some branches of Starbucks can serve people in ASL and this help me see that all I have to do is share my needs and there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
One experience that I had was at DHL, I wanted to send a package to New York and when I arrived, the customer service assistant didn’t give me attention. I waited in line and when my turn came they didn’t wait for me to communicate and served a lot of people ahead of me (I guess they thought I was waiting, not that I was deaf).
This really made me angry but this incident made me act in a different way, this was one experience that brought out my personality and gave me the power to attract attention, after making myself known to the customer service, I received the attention I wanted and was able to send my package safely.
Another good experience that I had was when I went for the first time to a deaf and hard of hearing meet-up. I needed to take a flight and travel to an unfamiliar city.
My family helped me booking my flight and getting into the airport, even booking me a private transport, but the problems came when I needed to get in contact with my driver. The company was calling me on my cell phone so my driver could locate me but I was not going to hear anything so I freaked out.
I have to thank Shuttlewizard (the company) for this attention because I was already crying and thinking I was not going to make it, but in that moment they texted me and ask if I had a problem or a special need, and problem solved! I texted them to say I was deaf and they told the driver and adjusted the service to my need.
These good and bad experiences taught me that if I am a deaf person I have to share it with the world so I can receive what I expect and deserve.
There is nothing wrong with being different, so let people know you are deaf and you’ll see how they will make the effort to understand you and if they don’t, they can get lost!
The best you can do is give yourself to what the world has to offer and enjoy it. I used to think that people were looking at me all the time and telling jokes or insulting me, since I couldn’t hear them but now I live in the moment and know that if they can’t communicate with me they are not worth it!
Linda Liulo is 25 years old and currently lives in San Diego. Her major is phycology and she volunteers at the Deaf Community Services of San Diego.
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